Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Switching Genres

One thing I've noticed about the truly successful "Indie" writers is that they pick a genre that works for them and stick with it.  John Locke writes mystery novels following the same lead character, Donovan Creed.  Amanda Hocking sticks with paranormal YA romance.  Joe Konrath writes thrillers, many with distinctive covers and titles revolving around a mixed-drink theme.  Their readers know what to expect, and once they are hooked they keep coming back for more.

So why am I currently switching genres?  It is a question I have to ask myself.  So far I have two novels out, both of which have had a reasonably good response.  Both fall into the category of romance, in one form or another.  When my first novel came out, some readers compared me to another male romance (though he prefers the term "love story") writer, Nicholas Sparks.  Sparks is another writer who has picked a genre, stuck with it, and had a great deal of success.

The thought of emulating this path has definitely crossed my mind.  If I was in it for the money alone, in fact, it would be a no-brainer.  But I just can't brink myself to do it.  I suppose I just have too many varied interests to pigeon-hole myself like that.  Writing the same type of novel over and over again would become tiresome, and if it became tiresome, the writing would suffer.  And who wants that?  All one has to do is look at some of the reviews of Sparks' latest for evidence of the inevitable decline.

One writer who fits into this genre category that has managed to cross over is the current reigning queen of romance, Nora Roberts.  She also writes thrillers, though under the J.D. Robb nom de plume.  She (or her editors) didn't want to confuse her readers.

Which brings up the question; should I use a different name for different types of books?  I've thought about it, but just can't bring myself to do so.  My next book is a thriller, sort of.  I'm also working on a book of narrative non-fiction, and a drama based on real events.  Do I use a different name for each one?  No.  Too confusing.

One of the reasons I decided that I wanted to be a novelist in the first place was so that I could write whatever I wanted to write without having to listen to anyone else's opinion on the subject.  During my career I've written for magazines and newspapers and a television station.  I never much liked writing what I was told to write.  I always wanted to just work on whatever I wanted to work on. 

So that's how it's going to be.  No one genre for me.  I hope my readers won't be too disappointed if I jump around, but hopefully I can take them along on some interesting journeys along the way!


  1. I admire that you are comfortable enough as a writer to branch out to different genres without changing your name. If all goes well you will expand your readership and gain notoriety, but if the "sort of" thriller doesn't work out readers who also find your romance novels might look elsewhere for their next romantic read. It's quite a risk.

    As someone who has been trying to balance their writing life with their day job, I find it important to keep the two identities separate until I figure out what genre I want my life to become.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rene! You're right, it does feel like a risk. I actually had another romance in the works but was struggling with it, so I put it on hold for a while. I might come back to it later, depending how things work out...

    Good luck with your own writing! It's tough to balance it with a day job. Luckily I'm managing to get by without one myself at the moment, knock on wood!

  3. The general advice about choosing a genre is to write what you enjoy reading ( mainly because you'll be well versed in what is around in the genre and kless liely to make big mistakes). But if you have failry eclectic tastes then it could be anything at all... Good luck whatever you decide to do!

  4. Thanks Pat, that sounds like good advice! I do have eclectic tastes, so I guess I'll have to keep mixing things up a bit... :-)